In the last “Annie’s Shelves,” I was so excited to be able to share my knowledge of books with readers, I chose titles I had read recently and really enjoyed. This time around, with a little more thought and the same excitement, I’ve decided to showcase some of my favorite comfort books.
These books have nursed me through the worst illnesses, depressing moments and buoyed me through happy times, sitting outside in the sun, drinking iced tea with nothing to worry about. If I’m planning on being away from my shelves longer than a few days, I take at least one with me. They bring me comfort, show me the world isn’t as bad as it seems and lift my spirits when they are low. In light of recent events, including the ever climbing gas prices, I felt sharing them with readers might be a good idea in case readers out there need a book shaped glimmer of hope.
“Darcy’s Story” by Janet Aylmer published by Harper Paperbacks in 2006: This book is for anyone who has ever wondered what could possibly be going through Mr. Darcy’s mind when he interacted with Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride and Prejudice.” Fans of Jane Austen will definitely want to reread her classic after taking in this adult fanfic, or fan written fiction. It tells the whole story of the two tangoing (properly of course) lovebirds from Darcy’s point of view, and suddenly his logic and reason for all those infuriating comments and actions make sense. The reader starts to agree and sympathize with Darcy, even at his most frustrating moments, and I started to wonder why it took so dang long for Elizabeth to fall into his loving, though formal, embrace.
“Sabriel” by Garth Nix published by Eos in 1997: Readers who enjoy fantasy that propels forward, this is the book for you. It doesn’t stop to describe the roses, it launches right into the adventure and intrigue of an alternate land, the Old Kingdom where the dead can walk (crawl, slither and stalk) among humans. The story follows Sabriel, the daughter of the Abhorsen, a necromancer who travels in Death and sends the dead to Ninth Gate of Death with a set of nine bells. As an older teenager, she is suddenly wisked back to the Old Kingdom to help her father, and the story flows from there as smooth as cream. The imagination and ingenuity of Nix creates a world as is believable as this one. Disclaimer: There are several scenes dealing with death and some violence. This book is not for those who faint at the sight of blood.
“Push” by Sapphire published by Vintage in 1997: This book always picks me up when I’m down because it reminds me that life can always be worse. The story is an account of Claireece Precious Jones’ life. She should be in 11th grade, but can barely read or write. Full of spelling errors, enough to send even the most hardened editor into a fit, take awhile to get used to, the gritty writing style matches the gritty way of life for Claireece. Though the story is hard to get through in places, it also conveys the possibilities even the most hopeless people can grab onto. It’s inspiring, and blossoms as Claireece discovers life does not have to be all about beating her down. Disclaimer: This book is not for young, or even older, teenagers or anyone easily offended by what they read as it presents many adult situations that can be unsettling.
“The Phantom Tollbooth” by Norton Juster published by Random House in 1964: When life seems too heavy and stressful to handle, this book provides the perfect escape. One of the most original books I’ve ever read (and that’s saying something) the plot follows Milo, a bored little boy who discovers a special box in his nursery. It turns out to be a tollbooth, which he sets up and drives his toy car through, and finds himself in a whole other world. He visits everything from the Doldrums (where the reader will struggle to stay awake with Juster’s amazing descriptions of falling into a daze and, eventually, sleep) to Dictionopolis, where numbers and letters come to life more effectively than on Sesame Street. Don’t get me wrong, this book is written for children from ages 8 to, well as old as you like to admit you are, but is a great read for anyone who wants to escape real life. It’s perfect for a sunny day with nothing scheduled but reading and maybe a visit to the Doldrums.